Appeal court approves Saraki’s trial at CCT

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‎The division among judges over propriety of the 13-count criminal charge against the Senate President, Olubukola Saraki Friday failed to stop the Appeal court from stopping upholding his trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal. T
The sharp division ended in two judges ruling that CCT should go ahead with the trial of the senate president.
Both Justice Moore Adumein and M. Mustapha dismissed Saraki appeal for lacking merit while another member, Justice ‎ J.E. Ekanem upheld the appeal, declaring the charge before the CCT as incompetent.
Justice Adumein, leader of the panel quashed Saraki’s appeal and asked him to answer the charge against him at the tribunal.
He held that Justice Danladi Umar-led tribunal was properly constituted to try the offences against Saraki, noting that he was not charged in his official capacity, but as an individual. ‎He relied on paragraph 15(1) of the Fifth Schedule to the 1999 Constitution and section 20(2) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, 2004, ‎and ruled that the two-man panel of Justices at the tribunal formed a quorum to entertain the charge.
“The above provisions are very clear and unambiguous and should be given their ordinary meaning. This is in line with ‎the golden rule of interpretation. There is no provision on minimum number of members which the tribunal must have before it can sit to hear cases”.
Justice Adumein noted that the charge was competently instituted while the tribunal also has the powers to issue bench warrant against the president of the senate. He quashed all five grounds of appeal filed by Saraki before the court for want of merit.
Similarly, Justice Mustapha, agreed with the lead verdict and upheld the charge against Saraki.
Justice Ekanem however dismissed the charge and discharged Saraki arguing that the Deputy Director at the Ministry of Justice, M. M. S. Hassan who signed the charge, did not specify who authorised him to initiate the ‎criminal proceeding.
“A look at the charge showed that Mr. Hassan instituted the action pursuant to section 24 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, 2004 which permits only the Attorney General of the Federation to initiate criminal proceedings”.
He explained that though the constitution permits the Solicitor-General of the Federation, SGF, to commence criminal action in the absence of the AGF, he argued that Hassan could not produce any document showing proper authorization by th‎e SGF.
“The opening paragraph of the letter Hassan sent to the CCT on September 11, wherein he applied to commence trial against the appellant is very instructive. “He merely said ‘ I am authorised to file this action’ but did not say that he was authorised by the Solicitor-General. He went short of identifying who authorised him. “It is therefore my view that the charge before the tribunal is incompetent. It is for this view that I hold that this appeal has succeeded and I hereby set-aside the charge and discharge the accused person”, ‎he held.
Saraki had sought protection from the appeal court against the legality of the charge against him. He alleged to have owned and operated foreign bank accounts while being a public officer.
The senate president also queried the constitutionality of the warrant of arrest that was initially issued against him by Chairman of the CCT, Justice Umar

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